DIARY - 19 OCTOBER 2003
SOWS CROPS IN BEAUTIFUL CIRCLES
work to be done, you had a good go/ the tractor is ready, there's plenty
to sow/ this year's the year with good looking ground/ and I'm feeling
good as I make my way round." - Beautiful Circle - Sara Storer.
emits a piercing whistle for her best mate Eddie and beckons him
to get off the road as a truck speeds by.
Eddie is not a servile lover - he's a farm dog coping with the torrid
traffic near Gosford on the NSW Central Coast.
It's easy to see why singer-songwriter-teacher Sara Storer was subject
of her own ABC docco 'Heart Of The Country' and featured on Nine
Network show, '60 Minutes,' with Kasey Chambers.
is the real deal - a credible daughter of the soil.
and bred on a 5,000 acre family wheat farm at Wemen near Robinvale in
the Sunraysia, is not a prefab femme fatale created for Video Hits.
She is perfect for Nu Country TV when she debuts with John Williamson
on their duet Raining On The Plains on Saturday November 1.
But the female twin, equal second youngest in six children, wrote the
song for her second ABC Music album 'Beautiful Circle.
And, with the help of two brothers, her dad and grandmother, she has written
12 of the 14 songs on the sequel to her debut 'Chasing Buffalo.'
Chasing Buffalo was spawned by a five year stint teaching in the outback
- remote towns such as Kalkaringi, about 500 kilometres south of Katherine.
wrote rural hardship song 'Tell These Hands' her family's 12,000-hectare
western NSW farm was besieged by floods.
But on the song's release last spring the Storers were suffering their
worst drought in more than two decades.
The family's farm is in the guts of NSW between Gualargambone and Warren,
north of Dubbo.
"It was written during the floods three years ago," Sara, 29,
told Nu Country in a call from a phone box near Gosford.
"Next we had an average year, then a drought."
The song is more than just a vignette of seasonal struggles to survive
and provide bread and meat to keep the cities fed and the nation's balance
of payments in the black.
It's about how her dad Lindsay, 60, and his peers - male and female -
battle to survive on a personal level.
"My dad's hands may look like they need a good wash, but to me they
are carved with passion and love and will fight to do what he and many
others love best - work and the land," Storer says.
"No-one tells these hands to give up."
The Storers headed north about eight years ago and bought a bigger farm
so their three sons could join their patriarch on the land.
"Tell the rain to stop falling/ tell the banks to stop calling/ tell
the politicians where they can put their plans/ tell the day to hold on
But the Storer clan, now drought stricken, are not just farmers - they're
musicians, poets and songwriters.
Eldest brother Doug faxed Sara the lyrics for 'Raining On The Plains,'
cut as a duet with former Mallee farmer John Williamson whose first family
farm was at Quambatook south east of Wemen.
Her middle brother Greg and then pregnant wife Pam co-wrote 'Better Next
Year' with Sara in a Sydney pub.
And the entire family - Lindsay on piano accordion and twin brother Ben
on fiddle - road tested Paul Kelly's bluegrass tune 'Night After Night'
at a family reunion.
But don't forget matriarchal grandmother Betty Priest who wrote 'Kurrajong
Tree' after returning to her family farm Fairview near Ganmain in the
Riverina in her seventies.
"She grew up performing with her brothers who played violin by ear
and wrote this poem after revisiting the farm," Sara revealed, "she's
86 now and recovering from a stroke."
Sara has been adroit enough to harvest hay from the hell of dry land farming
but didn't count on her father crashing his tractor while trying to help
"I don't drive a tractor but wanted to write about a romantic side
of driving a tractor from a woman's perspective," Sara revealed.
"I asked my dad about it and he was on his tractor trying to think
hard and hit a tree while he was spraying and caused a lot of damage,
thousands of dollars. It was quite funny but not for him."
Storer's album was not out in time for the Australian Country Music awards
in January but her single Tell These Hands' made the finals in four categories.
CHASING BUFFALO AND HITTING ROOS
decided to write a ruptured romance song on the steering wheel of her
car for her debut disc Chasing Buffalo while driving in the outback she
almost met her maker.
"There wasn't much traffic out there on the road and I thought I
would be safe," Sara revealed.
"But I received a rude awakening when I hit a dead roo and had to
grab the wheel to prevent overturning."
Luckily for the spontaneous singer-songwriter she only suffered minor
bruises to her face and body and dents in the roo bar of her car.
The red heart roo encounter and song is deeply imbedded in the mind of
Storer - her song Back With Me was a highlight of her multi-award winning
debut Chasing Buffalo.
It won Sara, then 27, a gold guitar award for best new talent in Tamworth
and a gong at the Victorian Country Music Awards in Whittlesea.
"I'll never forget the source and writing of that song," revealed
the farmer's daughter who used her Victorian teaching college degree to
launch her five-year teaching stint in the Northern Territory.
It was making a five hour car trip back from Katherine to the Kalkaringi
settlement. I had Just spent the weekend in Katherine where I saw an old
flame. My heart and mind were in conflict over the encounter. When you're
driving back out bush or away from a situation on a five-hour trip you
have heaps of time to reflect. I was writing on the steering wheel but
came back to earth when I hit the dead roo. That's why I have vivid memories
of the flame, roo and song. But I left the swear words out of that."
mentors diverse as the late Slim Dusty, Smoky Dawson, Lee Kernaghan and
peer Kasey Chambers by harvesting the heartbreak suffered by our bush
Sara also graphically bared her soul and depicted romantic and rural encounters.
"There's quite a few love disaster songs from my outback experiences,"
says Storer who now calls a retreat on the NSW Central Coast her new home.
"It's a Territory album from all my experiences up there. I spent
a year in Katherine and then went back out bush to Kalkaringi . When we
were back out bush we heard the Katherine River was rising and the feelings
flooded back through about the floods to me and Donna, my flat mate. I
put a twist in the song by using the word Katherine for the river and
a female. The flood of emotions threatened her for a dangerous lover.
It turned out a really good song - one of my favourites - and picked up
an award at the Victorian Country Music Awards."
Storer also exorcised her demons in another jog along the jagged edge
of her oft broken heart in the song Eerie Wind.
"I was sitting on this big verandah of my house at Kalkaringi,"
Sara recalled, "I was mixed up about a man, I was feeling cold and
warm at the same time. It's funny how songs come about, how those things
can hit you and you can write a whole song about it. I wrote Rollercoaster
in an Alice Springs motel with my sister - it's about chasing a man who
was oblivious to me. When I told friends at a rodeo that I built man traps
for a hobby their laughter gave me the idea to write it down and turn
it into a quirky little song."
Although Sara was inspired by fellow Sunraysia band T-Bones while studying
teaching it wasn't until she moved to the Northern Territory that her
"I went to Kalkaringi, 500 kilometres south of Katherine," Storer
revealed, "it's a tiny remote community. I was placed out there and
never looked back. The Aboriginal kids are just gorgeous. You see places
that no-one else gets to see. The class sizes are pretty small. The kids
get a choice of swimming down at the river and fishing or coming to school.
I know what I would choose. I tried to make class fun to get a few more
kids. I pulled out the guitar every day and sang to them. I would make
up songs - about animals out there - to suit their situation. So if the
class started getting out of hand I pulled out the guitar and sang."
But it was
colourful Territory characters such as Harry Chandler who spawned award
winning single Buffalo Bill and A Cowboy's Song.
"I met Harry in Cammoweal and he told me these amazing stories which
inspired me to write my very first song," Storer said, "naturally
it was about him."
Storer's amazing rise from farm girl to widely lauded artist peaked in
Tamworth and Sydney when she starred in pass the guitar concerts with
major U.S. singer-songwriters Gretchen Peters, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Dean
Miller and David Lee Murphy.
"It's an awesome, amazing feeling when you're sitting up there next
to these songwriters who are handing their songs to really big stars in
America like George Jones, Trisha Yearwood and Pam Tillis," Sara
revealed, "I was a little frightened sitting up there in the middle
of them. It was like being with family. I was the Aussie girl in among
these major American writers but the audience really backed me. It was
amazing to hear all these American songs - big hits for other artists
- and my Aussie songs in the middle. It was absolutely great experience
So was her national tour with Williamson and gig with Adam Harvey at Horsham
"Last year I was on the outside listening to their albums and going
to watch them." Sara said, "now I'm actually on the same bill
and up on stage with these guys and singing in my home state. I can't
wait. It's my first big show back home on stage with a band. It's fantastic.
I'm going to go and give it all I've got and meet a heap of people. And
like Kasey I'm going to put my hand up and bug ABC for a flight over to
Meanwhile Sara, who won radio airplay on Nu Country for three years, is
winning video exposure with Williamson.
But Sara hasn't been forced to sing Waltzing Matilda - she has long been
the real deal on her own songs.
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